The Blog Of Football Guesses is a weekly homage to a former
Clear Channel iHeartMedia Director of Digital who once informed me, in all seriousness, that "football picks drive web traffic, especially if you toss in a picture of a cheerleader." Such guidance and insight really does continue to reverberate.
It's been 250 days since the Bengals last played a game that counted in the standings, 264 days since the Bengals last played a game that impacted their playoff chances, and 292 days since the Bengals last played a game that carried with it any kind of real significance.
From those final few weeks of last season until now, we've dissected this particular team every conceivable way, driving all the main storylines into the ground, and exploring every possibility for this season and the possibilities beyond this season.
I have no more takes. I'm ready for the season to begin. Let's go.
BENGALS v. RAVENS
I can't tell you that I feel all that strongly about this game. The Ravens stopped being the Ravens that used to scare the shit out of us the moment Ray Lewis retired, and since then John Harbaugh's team has seemed to just kinda exist, floating out there amid a whole bunch of other indistinguishable NFL teams.
Perhaps that's the price you pay when you're among the more successful franchises - as the Ravens were - for more than a decade. Or maybe that's what happens when a good quarterback takes advantage of timing and twists his team's arm into giving him a massive contract, which is what happened when Joe Flacco got paid after whatever number Super Bowl it was when Baltimore beat San Francisco.
It's not that the Ravens aren't a threat to come here and win, it's just they're no longer scary. In fact, I'd argue that the scariest Baltimore player from a Cincinnati standpoint is Justin Tucker, their kicker who almost single-footedly beat the Bengals last November. They have some young pass rushers who look promising, and their secondary might be decent, but nothing about their offense is intimidating with a Joe Flacco who didn't miss training camp, much less a Joe Flacco who's been absent for most of the last five weeks.
But their offense isn't scaring anyone, and when you're opening the season with a slew of young players, and absent your best overall defender and maybe still your best corner (debatable), Flacco and Co. are who you want to see in week one.
Three things concern me:
Cedric Ogbuehi trying to block Terrell Suggs. Actually, Cedric Ogbuehi trying to block anyone concerns me, but this might be the thing that troubles me the most.
Their kicker > our kicker. (Let me use "our" for these purposes) Last year the Ravens won a game over the Bengals in large part because Justin Tucker could make field goals from 50-plus. They still have him, the Bengals have a shaky kicking situation and a small margin for error. In a close game, this could be huge.
Ken Zampese. When I got my first house, my dad bought me every tool conceivable. My garage looked like a mom and pop hardware store with all the stuff I had. Problem is, I had no idea how to use the stuff, so most of it was useless. I fear that might be the case with all of the tools that Zampese has. And I fear that the insistence on Jeremy Hill be a big part of the offense will last a little too long, if Hill looks like he has over the past two seasons.
All of that said, I'll take the home team with the weapons. With Houston's defense looming on Thursday, and Aaron Rodgers waiting for them at Lambeau the week after, this game takes on added importance. I say the Bengals avoid a disastrous start.
Bengals 21 Ravens 17 (Cincinnati -3)
BENGALS LINKS OF THE WEEK
Hit Parade: Vontaze Burfict Is Football’s Inescapable Past and Future
Comparing Vontaze Burfict’s new contract to other top NFL linebackers
Vontaze Burfict’s contract extension proves Bengals pay up for top talent
Bengals' A.J. Green is choosing greatness
The 5 Toughest Corners I’ve Ever Faced, by AJ Green
Mike Brown’s Forgotten Playing Days
THERE ARE OTHER GAMES
Got off to a rousing start, thanks to Kareem Hunt, and throughly prepared Kansas City offense, and Tom Brady looking unlike Tom Brady. I'm 0-1....
Atlanta (-7) over Chicago. Did you know the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in last year's Super Bowl?
Washington (+1) over Philadelphia. I'd rather ready 9,00,000 consecutive Colin Kaepernick thinkpieces instead of one more blog about Kirk Cousins' contract.
Cleveland (+9) over Pittsburgh. The Browns are doing some good things. Being one part of a season-opening three-teamer I've got going is hopefully among them.
Detroit (+2) over Arizona. The first team that decides "you know what, quarterbacks are hard to get and all, but we're not gonna give the most money ever to a guy who isn't the best player ever" will be my second favorite team.
Buffalo (-8) over the Jets. The New York Jets have the worst roster I've ever seen, I spent way too much time in the 90s obsessing over what kinds of rosters the Bengals had.
Tennessee (-1.5) over Oakland. The Titans are this year's Raiders.
Jacksonville (+6) over Houston. Blake Bortles, baby!
Rams (-3.5) over Indianapolis. Tolzien. Goff. This is the Natonal Football League!
Green Bay (-3) over Seattle. I'm going to Lambeau in a few weeks. Not really sure what this has to do with anything, but now you know.
Carolina (-6) over San Francisco. If my Sunday goes well, I won't see much of this one.
Giants (+4) over Dallas. I'd feel better about this if I felt better about Odell Beckham's health.
New Orleans (+3) over Minnesota. I have a feeling Adrian Peterson has an insane;y good game. Then I have a feeling we won't hear much from him this season.
Denver (-3) over the Chargers. Please, Trevor Siemian, save our fair country from more Brock Osweiler.
NFL FAN FIGHT OF THE WEEK
CINCINNATI v. MICHIGAN
As soon as I hit publish on this award-winner, I'm headed on a drunk bus to Ann Arbor for this weekend's UC/Michigan tilt.
I don't expect a good result.
I don't expect a good game.
I do expect to enjoy myself. And in situations like this one, I root for myself.
I'm not sure much analysis is needed. Luke Fickell doesn't have the horses. Michigan's defense might be the scariest in college football. The Bearcats are hoping to play in any kind of bowl game. The Wolverines are national title hopefuls. A UC win would be the biggest upset in Cincinnati sports history. I haven't thought too much about that statement, but it sounds like it might be accurate.
At least UC's football team will show up for their agreed-upon date, which is something Michigan's basketball team doesn't do.
Wolverines 49 Bearcats 7 (Michigan -35)
HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK
Buckeyes 34 Sooners 28 (Oklahoma (+7)
Kentucky 31 Eastern Kentucky 13 If Mark Stoops isn't gonna appear on my show, he can at least have the stones to punch it in from the one yard line in the closing seconds when his team is up seven and favored by nine. Why does Mark Stoops hate me?
Miami 27 Austin Peay 14
Indiana 28 Virginia 24
Dayton 63 Southeast Missouri State 0
Thomas More 52 Bridgewater 51
Mount St. Joseph 17 DePauw 3
Scott 35 Conner 9
Have a great weekend. Enjoy the 1990 Bengals.